Taking a gap year is not a bad idea if one is confused | Career Counselling
I am studying in the arts stream in class XII and I am weak in maths and accounts. I am also not strong in economics. I am very worried about what course I should opt for given that my creative skills are also not that good.
When thinking about your future, it is important to consider what you can do well, rather than focus on what you cannot do. Every one of us has a range of different talents any one of which could enable us carve a career for ourselves. So it is essential to know and figure out what you are good at, the kind of person you are and the work that will interest you, before starting out on your career. You can explore a number of fields of activity that interest and excite you and try to understand the kind of work you will be doing in each and assess your own suitability for such work. You may be good with communications, have social skills, get on well with other people. If so, you can consider careers like hotel management, advertising, corporate communications, event management, marketing, all of which you can take up after graduation in any subject. If you are not interested in academic subjects , but have some good skills and interest in computers, travel, fashion, beauty, catering, fitness etc you can also do vocational courses, now available as a Bachelor’s degree in many universities. These courses are mostly job oriented and can qualify you for a job as soon as you complete the programme. There are really so many different and exciting options that you should not stress yourself now when doing exams. This is the time to stay calm and focus on doing the best you can in your studies. Irrespective of your marks and results, there will be thousands of courses or training programmes you can take up which can lead to a satisfying career.
I am currently studying in class XII and I face many problems related to my studies. I have commerce with psychology as my stream and l still don’t know what I should do in the future. Sometimes, I think of taking up law, or maybe psychology – I can’t decide. I need to concentrate on my studies, and I don’t have time to start planning for the future. I was thinking of taking a gap year after class XII to figure out these things, but my parents and many others think it will be bad for my future. I am so confused. Please advise.
Actually taking a gap year is not a bad idea. It helps many students like you who are confused and have not given much thought to what they are good at, what they want to do, and how they should plan and focus on their goals. The gap year can be of great value if you spend this time fruitfully by keeping yourself involved in activities that can help you figure out what works best for you. You could start with doing some volunteer work particularly if you can find an organization where you are able to contribute skills you like to use – eg teaching little kids, or counseling young girls, collecting funds etc. You can also find out and explore the careers that interest you through taking up Internships and apprenticeships that can help you identify the kind of work and environment that will suit you.
You can also spend some time to develop those skills that you plan to use but are still not competent with – skills that can help you excel in your career, like communication skills, languages, possibly a foreign language, and computer skills. Today there are so many courses and classes available both online and offline to take up short courses and learn so many things. So use the free time well - use ideas from topics you read about in the paper or the TV, and use your network of friends, families and college associates to assist with ideas. It is better to spend time planning and exploring rather than rushing into a study or work situation that you have not clearly identified. Once you have a better idea of what will work for you, you can start preparing for the appropriate course of study.
(The columnist is director of Career Smarts and the author of The Penguin India Book of Careers Vol 1 and 2)